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Brain Cancer Drug Looks Very Promising

Posted on: 12/19/2007

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Reported December 18, 2007

Brain Cancer Drug Looks Very Promising

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – A drug for patients with the most common and aggressive types of brain cancer looks quite promising.

A new study from Henry Ford Hospital focused on patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) whose cancer had come back. Results show more than one third of those taking Avastin (bevacizumab) alone plus more than half of those taking Avastin along with the chemotherapy drug irinotecan lived for six months without the disease getting worse. And there were no new or unexpected side effects.

“This is very encouraging news,” lead investigator Tom Mikkelsen, M.D., Henry Ford Hospital, was quoted as saying. “Historical estimates suggest that only 15 percent of patients with this aggressive type of brain cancer live without their cancer progressing within six months. Although gliomas [fast-growing malignant brain tumors] are nearly always incurable, use of a drug like Avastin may help to buy precious time for patients, as well as to preserve their physical and mental functions longer than was previously possible.”

Avastin is designed to block Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) - a protein that stimulates new blood vessels to grow while maintaining existing tumor vessels. By binding to VEGF the drug chokes off the blood supply to tumors which keeps them from growing and spreading.

Mikkelsen says the findings could lead to new treatments for patients with recurring GBM.

In the past the combination of Avastin and chemotherapy has been used to treat metastatic colorectal and lung cancers. Because of its success rate with these cancers, Avastin is now being studied worldwide in more than 300 clinical trials for 20 different types of tumors.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says GBM patients have a five-year survival rate of three percent - a figure that has remained the same for more than 25 years. The ACS estimates there will be 20,500 new cases of brain cancer and 12,740 deaths from the disease in 2007.

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SOURCE: Henry Ford Health System, 2007

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